During her lifetime, Leona Helmsley was known as “the queen of mean,” often mistreating tenants, employees, and family members. However, these days, Helmsley is more often associated with generous donations to charity, particularly in Israel, where she established the Leona Helmsley Foundation. The late hotelier’s bequest made this donation possible, and it continues to grow. Now, her descendants are the beneficiaries of the billions of dollars she left behind.
Although her estate included a trust fund and named the dog Trouble as her heir, Leona Helmsley’s will cut two grandchildren out. The money was reportedly distributed to Trouble’s devoted owners, including a former employee, who was furious that her heirs had given her such a large sum. However, the dog, Trouble, died in 2011 and the rest of her money went to the family’s general manager, Alvin Rosenthal.
In 1997, Harry Helmsley died, leaving behind an estate worth an estimated $5 billion. Leona Helmsley lived in a lavish apartment with a dog and few friends. She was a convicted felon and could not hold a liquor license. The family was forced to sell off her real estate holdings because New York laws prohibited felons from holding liquor licenses. This led to a bitter divorce.
While Leona Helmsley intended to pass on her vast wealth to her children, her unusual bequests left the estate vulnerable to challenges. For example, her intention to disinherit two of her grandchildren, Craig and Meegan Panzirer, left $10 Million to each of them in a trust. The couple sued the estate, claiming that Helmsley was mentally unsound when she wrote her will.